"Russian and U.S. launch-ready nuclear weapons are a self-destruct mechanism for the human race," a conference of authorities on the subject convening in New York City will be told.
"A nuclear war fought with strategic nuclear weapons would leave the earth uninhabitable for humans and most animals." says Steven Starr, an Associate of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a Senior Scientist of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Starr will deliver his talk Feb. 28 on the opening day of a 2-day conference about "The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction" convened at The New York Academy of Medicine under the auspices of The Helen Caldicott Foundation For a Nuclear Free Future.
"A single, standard size Russian strategic nuclear weapon, detonated above New York City, would ignite a fire storm covering about 100 square miles. Virtually no one in the fire zone would survive."
Nuclear firestorms created by war fought with thousands of strategic nuclear weapons would produce millions of tons of smoke, which would rise above cloud level to form a global stratospheric smoke layer. Starr summarizes the findings of scientific studies, which predict that the smoke would block most sunlight from reaching the surface of the earth for more than a decade. This would rapidly create Ice Age weather conditions, causing temperatures in the central US and Eurasia to fall below freezing every day for one to three years.
The resulting global nuclear famine would likely kill most humans from starvation. When all the long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war are considered, Starr says it becomes clear that a war fought with strategic nuclear weapons would result in a mass extinction event, similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs and 75% of all species of life on earth.
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However, the existential threat posed by strategic nuclear war has not been publicly acknowledged or discussed by the leaders of the nuclear weapon states. The US and Russia continue to conduct large scale nuclear war games, which Starr says amounts to "a dress rehearsal for Armageddon."
"A nuclear war fought with the strategic nuclear weapons of the US and Russia will end human history. Yet this ultimate danger is not even recognized by those people who have the power to launch nuclear weapons. If they push the button, they can literally destroy the human race. Isn't it time for our leaders to recognize that nuclear war represents suicide for our species?
Dr. Caldicott is an Australian physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate who has founded several associations dedicated to opposing the use of nuclear power, depleted uranium munitions, and nuclear weapons. She has been awarded 21 honorary doctoral degrees and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling.
According to Dr. Caldicott: "As the Cold War heats up again, the U.S. and Russia each maintain over one thousand nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert to be launched with a press of a button, increasing the risk of a global conflagration."
"Between them," she goes on to say, "the U.S. and Russia possess 93% of the world's 16,400 nuclear weapons arsenal, a situation which is made worse by outdated equipment, negligence, poor maintenance, viruses, and hacking within the arsenals of both countries."
And far from his past disarmament promises, Caldicott says, "President Obama plans to earmark $1 trillion over the next 30 years to replace every nuclear weapon, missile, ship, submarine and plane."
Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...